By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
All of which makes Jack Costanzo the most in-demand session bongo player in the history of recorded popular music, whose work is heard on thousands of discs and movie soundtracks. Leonard Feather called him “Mr. Bongo”; somebody once said he was like the Earl Palmer or the Hal Blaine (both ubiquitous session drummers) of hand percussion — you’ve heard his playing a thousand times without even knowing it. He’s also been cited as an influence by a new generation of stellar hand percussionists like Ray Barretto, Poncho Sanchez, Giovanni Hidalgo and José “Papo” Rodriguez, and this Chicagoan is already up there in the Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz Hall of Fame with Chano Pozo, Mongo Santamaria, Tata Guines, Sabu Martinez, Patato Valdez, Candido Camero, Armando Peraza and Tito Puente.
And the beat goes on. Costanzo has just released a brand-new CD, Back From Havana on Cubop/Ubiquity (www.ubiquityrecords.com), the San Francisco–based Latin-jazz and rare-groove specialist. The set contains 15 solid dance tunes played by San Diego’s finest musicians.
One more thing: Jack Costanzo has inserted a personal Mr. Bongo soundbite into the collective pop-culture psyche of the entire Western Hemisphere and beyond — that’s Jack’s rapid-fire 16th-note high bongo trill at the top of the Mission: Impossible theme.
Jack Costanzo and his 14-piece orchestra play at the Conga Room on Friday, February 9.